Tejiri Ebikeme

Dr. (Mrs.) Veronica Ogbuagu (JP)

Dr. (Mrs.) Veronica Ogbuagu (JP)

EX-Commissioner for Education in Delta State, Dr. (Mrs.) Veronica Ogbuagu (JP) has commenced the distribution of free books to schools in Delta State, calling for the promotion of reading culture.

In February 2013, Books For Africa, based in USA donated books worth about Fifty Million Naira (N50,000,000:00) to Dr. Ogbuagu’s Chinkelly Schools, Ekpan and her NGO, Every Child Counts Initiative For Education (ECCIFED).

The educationist on Thursday, March 21, 2013, flagged-off the distribution of the books to schools in Delta State with a call on public spirited individuals to support and assist “us with transportation to enable us embark on a fair distribution of the books to children/youths across the country.”

Dr. Ogbuagu while carrying out the distribution of the books at Chinkelly School Sports Field said that; “We are here today, because we want to promote the culture of reading as part of learning in schools, by distributing books to schools. From my records, we have 70 private schools in attendance, with 220 pupils and 120 students respectively. The books were donated to Chinkelly Schools and my NGO, Every Child Counts Initiative For Education (ECCIFED) in February, 2013 by a very credible and charitable organization- Books For Africa.”

She added that “You are our first recipient, in subsequent distribution; we hope to go to villages and creeks to distribute books to the less privileged children and students. We wish to call on public spirited individuals to support and assist us with transportation to enable us embark on a fair distribution of the books to children/youths across the country. Please identify yourself as a member of the Literacy Sponsorship Team (LST) by supporting and assisting the Literacy Sponsorship Team (LST).”

Dr. Ogbuagu also said; “I am immensely grateful to Books For Africa (USA) for donating books worth about fifty million naira (N50,000,000.00) to my schools and NGO, Every Child Counts Initiative For Education (ECCIFED) to be distributed free to schools. This goes a long way to show their interest in ending book famine in Nigeria, as well as promoting the culture of reading.”

According to her; “Today, many stakeholders like parents, teachers and school administrators have called for a state of emergency to be declared in the education sector. The sector is sick. It is no longer news to read in all our newspapers about the poor performance of our children in both internal and external examinations. Nigeria at 52 cannot boast of sound and qualitative education. We as stakeholders are very worried and concerned about the present state of education in Nigeria. There should be a re-examination of the system and definite steps taken to overhaul it. We as stakeholders must rise up to the challenges facing education in the country and contribute our quota to ensure that the failing standard of education is revived.”

“Here I must commend Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State for his effort in revamping education in Lagos State. Lagos State recorded a 100 percent improvement in the 2012 West African Examination Council, WAEC results. This achievement could be attributed to the “Support Our Schools Initiative,” a programme that promoted better teaching and learning environment in the state. Nigerian governors should borrow a leaf from Lagos State. Governor Babatunde Fashola is a leader but in a small environment,” the educationist stated.

In the public’s eyes and in our view, she said, “The best way Nigeria can increase and sustain the achievement of all students is adequate funding and provision of high quality teachers. Our schools are poorly equipped for teaching. We presently have an army of highly deficient teachers in content and methodology; Good Schools are highly equipped for teaching/learning process. But suffice it to say that about 85% of our Secondary schools do not have functional libraries. The few schools with libraries have obsolete books.”

The former Commissioner encouraged all school heads to work towards the provision of a library in their schools, adding that “You may start with a small collection of books but with a deliberate policy of providing suitable accommodation and earmarking some amount of money every year in the school budget to stock the library, your library stock of books will grow to become a standard library.”

“To my dear pupils/students, I urge you all to be good readers and to begin practicing what good readers do. Good readers read a lot; they read everyday, talk about what they have read, write about what they have read, read to learn and use comprehension strategies to become more proficient readers. With this kind gesture of ours, we hope you would encouraged to read extensively on your own.”

And to the teachers, she said, “We must ensure that students grow as readers and learners. We must encourage in them lifelong interest in reading. It is my hope that these books will spur our children to read. As private school owners, we share a commitment to significantly improve Nigeria’s schools so that all students in the country would have the opportunity for a first-rate education.”

Responding, Uvwie Chapter Chairman of Association of Private Schools of Nigeria (APSON), Mr. David Ohikhena said that “We appreciate Chinkelly Schools and ECCIFED in collaboration with Books For Africa. We count ourselves privileged as first recipient of this gesture. We strongly believe that this will go a long way in developing the individual child and the participating schools. To our pupils/students here today, the message is go, read and make yourself a trusted Nigerian. APSON UVwie appreciate Dr. (Mrs.) Ogbuagu for this magnanimous act.